Transit Tuesday : Hurray for the Streetcars of Toronto

510 Spadina in the rain, Toronto, October, 2012. RL Fifield photo.


During a short business trip to Toronto, I had the pleasure of getting around town on their streetcar system. Unlike American streetcar systems destroyed by the National City Lines/General Motors streetcar conspiracy, Toronto’s streetcar system is intact due to its location in Canada.

One rider asked “How do you learn to drive these things?”

I could hear the operator sunny reply: “Operate! There are bus drivers, and streetcar operators.”


Entrance to Trains – Toronto’s Union Station. RL Fifield photo.


I rode the streetcar down Spadina Avenue, to Toronto’s Union Station. There, the streetcar entered a tunnel, deposited passengers in the basement of the station, picked up new passengers, and went back out on its route. We approached a switch; the streetcar operator got out with a long metal pole to manually change the switch, before climbing back in and moving forward. This isn’t a heritage line mind you, it’s a major part of the Toronto Transportation Commission system. Excellent.

I missed a trip on the lauded 501 Queen Streetcar (named one of the top 10 trolley routes in the world by National Geographic) due to business. But I’ll be back. Read some heavier thoughts on Canadian transit ridership and market share  by Stephen Rees at his blog.

About Becky Fifield

Becky Fifield is a cultural heritage professional with 25 years experience in institutions large and small. She is currently Head of Collection Management for the Special Collections of the New York Public Library. An advocate for preventive conservation, Ms. Fifield is a Professional Associate of the American Institute for Conservation, Chair of the AIC Collection Care Network, and former Chair of Alliance for Response NYC. She is also a scholar of 18th century female unfree labor and dress. There's a bit of pun in the title The Still Room, delineating a quiet space brimming with the ingredients of memory, where consideration, analysis, and wordcraft can take place. Ms. Fifield’s interests include museum practice, dress history, historic preservation, transit, social and women’s history, food, current events, geneaology, roadtrips, and considerations on general sense of place. Becky and her husband, Dr. V, live in the Hudson Valley.